“It’s only cricket” – well not in India. In India cricket is more like a religion than a sport. Played by nearly 40% of the population cricket is now a major part of India’s heritage and the great players national treasures that will never be forgotten. Whether you land in Mumbai, New Delhi or Ahmedabad it won’t be long before you are greeted by something cricket related, for children playing in the street, to crowds of people dressed up and ready to support their local heroes. Whether you are a cricket fan yourself, or just want to get in on the action, here are our top 5 stadiums to visit on your travels.
1. Eden Gardens, Kolkatta
Kolkatta (formerly known as Calcutta) is a top destination for any traveller. Direct flights from London to Kolkata as low as £500 means you can be enjoying the cricket world first hand. Commonly known as the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought, it is also home to probably the most iconic of all India’s cricket grounds. Eden Gardens is also the largest ground in India and the third largest in the world.
The stadium is famous for it’s very vocal crowd, who in the past caused Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar to refuse to play there ever again! It is well worth a visit for any cricket fan or curious mind alike.
2. Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium Hyderabad
Along the banks of the Musi River lies the city of Hyderabad the ‘Lion City’ and of course the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium.
A state-of-the-art facility the ground has played host to Sachin Tendulkars 45th ODI hundred and his record 60th ODI Man of the Match award. This ground also holds an England record for the lowest amount of runs ever scored at the ground, 174 – not quite so impressive but doesn’t detract from the grandeur and heritage of this fantastic stadium. One extra, but equally important thing to add is that Hyderabad is also home to two of India’s iconic dishes the Hyderabadi biryani and Hyderabadi haleem! So enjoy the perfect day out with a trip to the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium and lunch at a local hotspot.
3. Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Jaipur is situated in the picturesque state of Rajasthan, one of India’s major tourist destinations it is also home to the Sawai Mansingh stadium. Originally built during the reign of Sawai Raja Man Singh II the ground has witnessed the now infamous ODI 183 not out by current Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni against Sri Lanka. It also hosted the Cricket for Peace initiative between India & Pakistan. Whilst you are planning your trip to the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, there are a number of other attractions that are well worth adding to your itinerary – the Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal, City Palace, the Sanganeri Gate and the Jaipur Zoo (to name just a few).
4. Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur
Nagpur is India’s second capital and of course home to the VCA stadium. Many regard the VCA as India’s best stadium for both practice and training with India’s Premier League founder Lalit Modi describing it as ‘by far the best in India’. The legend that is Mahendra Singh Dohni again holds the ODI record on this ground, a massive 124 against the Australians. A quick fact for the food lovers, Nagpur cuisine is famous for it’s very spicy taste, so be prepared.
5. Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Mumbai, also known by the name ‘Bombay’ is home to the most billionaires and millionaires in India, is the most populated city in the country and is also the birthplace of Bollywood and the famous Wankhede Stadium. Interestingly, the stadium was built as the result of a disagreement between the Cricket Club of India and the Mumbai Cricket Association over the allocation of tickets for matches. So the Wankhede was built and hosted it’s first match, the final test between India and the West Indies, in 1975. It is probably most famous for being the ground that Ravi Shastri hit six sixes in one over. When in Mumbai you won’t be spoilt for things to see and do and we would highly recommend a visit to the Wankhede.